1984 and 1988 Olympic silver medalist
1987 World champion
1984-1988 World freestyle champion
Eight-time Canadian champion
Officer of the Order of Canada
Just four days after perhaps his best competitive skating in this decade (at the Masters competition in Boise, Idaho on November 14, 1998), Brian Orser was hit with a palimony suit by former boyfriend Craig Leask. Orser tried but failed to get the file sealed, according to an article by Gretchen Drummie of Sun Media. This is the first instance of an élite figure skater being "outed" as gay with irrefutable proof, rather than rumor.
In an affidavit, Orser referred to gay skaters' concerns about "the likely impact of public disclosure on their careers," stating that it was "highly likely that if these allegations were made public, I would not be invited to return to a number of major ice shows."
But a rush of support from within the skating world prompted him to state on November 20, 1998, "In hindsight, I may have overreacted in trying to protect my privacy. Over the last two days, I have received a tremendous outpouring of public support which has been a great comfort to me."
Olympic bronze medalist Isabelle Brasseur's words in her book "Brasseur & Eisler: The Professional Years" (as told to Lynda Prouse, 1999) are typical of the kind of support Orser received from the skating world: "I know it was very painful for Brian Orser to have to answer questions when a story broke about his private life in December [sic] 1998. Brian is a kind and thoughtful man who works very hard to entertain an audience. Why his sexual preference, or mine, for that matter, should make any difference to anyone, I will never understand" (p. 185).
Orser was the first man to land more than one triple axel in competition, pioneered the triple axel-triple toe loop combination, overcame an early reputation as a technical-only skater to become famous for his musical sensitivity, and even now has few peers as a footwork master. Following the trauma of his best friend Rob McCall's death from AIDS, Orser devoted serious effort to fundraising on behalf of people with AIDS, as well as women's health issues. He is one of the most politically in-touch and savvy skaters, and Rainbow Ice is proud to include him on the site.
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